Many kiddos, younger and older, are preparing for graduation time. Whether it be Kindergarten or high school, graduation is something to celebrate. Last year, many people embraced unique ways to celebrate due to a halt in celebrating in-person or walking across stages because of covid protocols. Drive-by celebrations, lawn signs, and other unconventional ideas took place to show our loved ones that we’re proud of them. Although some services will be in-person this year, we’re not completely back to normal yet. Here is a list of ideas to celebrate graduations locally.
Lawn Party NW-
This company offers lawn signs to celebrate your family graduate. The signs stay in your yard for one day, and you can add another day in the “add-ons.” They set up late at night the night before your celebration. They offer “congratulations” signs, a personalized name sign, flocks of flamingos, and 2021 signs for purchase. They will deliver in the general Portland metro area for free and charge $10 for delivery outside of that area. Aside from graduation, they offer birthday, marry me, congratulations, baby announcements, black lives matter, and many other types of announcements. Here is the link to their graduation section: https://www.lawnpartynw.com/graduation.
Portland Party Works-
This company assists families in planning graduation parties. You can enter a budget on the website, what you need (venue, food, equipment, services), and they can help you build a graduation celebration for your loved one. The website lists places that are available to host such a party. The venues include East Portland Community Center, Cascade Athletic club (Vancouver and Gresham locations), Bay Club, North Clackamas Aquatic Park, Southwest Community Center, Firstenburg Community Center, and Conestoga Rec Center. They can even provide activities like a rock-climbing wall, inflatables, mechanical bulls, photo booths, and the list goes on! A great service. Here is the link for more info: https://www.portlandpartyworks.com/graduation-party/.
A Graduation Photo Session-
I have two kids. One is in kindergarten, and one is in second grade. The kindergartner had formal school pictures this year, but my older child did not. She was really bummed. So, while some graduating kiddos will have a school picture as a memory this year, others may not. A fun way to celebrate the occasion of graduating could be a photo session. Whether it is pictures of your kiddo solo in their graduation gear or pictures with family and friends on what would be their graduation day, a picture session could make for a very memorable day. When I started looking for graduation photo sessions in Portland, I was quickly led by Google to a service/company called “Snappr.” Snappr is a popular website that links families to “vetted” local photographers in their area and within their budget. I found them by clicking on an article about “The best five places to have a graduation photoshoot in Portland, OR” (Cathedral Park, Peninsula Park, Crystal Spring Rhododendron Garden, Rocky Butte, and Tilikum Crossing Bridge). The article gives an option to book, learn about how it works, and gather price information. Here is the link for more info: https://www.snappr.com/blog/top-5-spots-for-graduation-photography-in-portland.
Special Occasion Restaurant Outings-
While the younger kiddos may not care about a restaurant that doesn’t have chicken nuggets and milkshakes, our beloved teens may appreciate a “fancy meal” for the special occasion of graduation. There are plenty of restaurants here in Oregon that provide killer, award-winning food with a beautiful setting to celebrate an occasion like graduation. Whether the teen wants to dine with their partner/significant other, some friends, or family, a gift card or an invitation to a fancy-schmancy restaurant may be a great way to enjoy their recent graduation. The article I found relays the top ten special occasion restaurants here in Oregon: https://www.gayot.com/restaurants/best-portland-or-top10-special-occasion-restaurants_26po.html.
While this option is not based here in Oregon, they deliver to Oregon. This awesome service offers sweet treats, flowers, balloons, wine, and various gift baskets to graduates. It looks like there is an option to send a sweet card or encouraging note along with the goodies you decide to send. There are some great choices through this company. Their cakes and cupcakes look amazing, and they also offer healthier options like fruit baskets as well. If you are far away from your beloved graduate or want to have a company put together a beautiful gift basket for you, Gift Blooms may be worth looking into. They pride themselves on speedy delivery. Here is the link for more info: https://www.giftblooms.com/USA/Graduation-Cake-Delivery-to-Portland-Oregon.
My daughter and I recently discovered “Cameo.” It is a cool website that allows people to get a direct message or a personalized video keepsake from their favorite celebrities for varied prices. Naturally, the super-popular celebrities are expensive (some up to $1,000 or more!), and the less popular choices are cheaper (I’ve seen some for as low as $20!). We haven’t used the service…yet. We are taking our time to research and see the best choice that won’t break the bank. There are a ton of choices. Disney channel/movie actors, people who voice some of our beloved cartoon characters, singers, and YouTuber’s. It’s cool because you can tailor your message. They give you an average “turn-around” time so you’re aware of how long you will be waiting. Most of them seem to be around one day. You can tell the celebrity your kiddo’s name, age, what their recent accomplishment was (like graduation), and ask them to say certain things like, “I heard you just got an ‘A’ on your science test last Thursday, way to go!”. The reviews I have read are really encouraging, saying that the celebrities do such an outstanding job personalizing the messages. There is an option on the website for “graduation speeches,” so that’s why I wanted to add this as a graduation celebration option. Here is the link for more info: https://www.cameo.com/tags/get-a-graduation-speech.
Jostens is the place to go for graduation gear. They sell jewelry, clothing, yearbooks, and other products that commemorate graduation. I typed in Franklin High school (my old high school, aww!) to start a search and saw that they have varied “graduation packages.” They offer different packages with caps and gowns, tassels, hoodies, T-shirts, jewelry, stationery, and thank you cards. This would be a great place to shop for products that reflect your graduate’s high school. A great graduation gift. Here is the link: https://www.jostens.com/grad/high-school-graduation-packages.html.
A gift card to a play place-
A fun way to celebrate post-graduation would be going to a big ole’ play place for the younger kiddos. Playdate PDX sells gift cards that can be customized with a greeting card. I know my kiddos would be thrilled to get a beautiful “congratulations!” graduation greeting card that had a gift card for Playdate PDX inside. Here is the link to “Giftly,” the service that will pair the gift card with a thoughtful greeting card: https://www.giftly.com/gift-card/playdate-pdx-portland.
Graduation memory book-
Many services offer photo books. You could gather photos throughout their school years and put them together for a great gift. But this article I found about a “graduation memory book” honestly made me emotional! Further than just pictures, a graduation memory book includes letters from teachers, past projects, and other memorabilia from a kiddo’s journey in school. A wonderful idea. Here is the link to the article: https://simply2moms.com/graduation-memory-book/.
I can’t believe how quickly this school year is ending. Folks, we have made it through 1.5 school years during a pandemic. The kids should be immensely proud of themselves, but parents/caregivers, we should be proud of ourselves too! This has been a new, difficult territory for many of us. We should definitely be celebrating graduation big-time this year. Best of luck to you all in finding unique and special ways to celebrate the end of this academic year.
Stephanie McCoy was born and raised in Portland, Oregon-where she still lives. She recently graduated with a Master’s in Education degree from Concordia University. In her free time: she likes to read and write, get outdoors, embrace her kiddos and husband, and watch travel documentaries.